There are days on the franch that are simply exhausting. I wanted to be able to say “today was one of ‘em” but last night I was simply too tired to write. Some evenings my husband and I collapse on our couch both asking why we are making our lives harder by living on a franch. We don’t have to do anything that we do on our franch. We are in fact choosing to do it. Actually, that’s the way it is with most of life, isn’t it? It helps on those harder days to remember it’s a choice. Occasionally, we romanticize what life would be like without all the responsibilities that come with farm animals. Then, thankfully, there are days, like yesterday, when we rub our sore muscles smiling at each other as we listen to our children re-tell the stories from a day well lived. Yesterday our family butchered the first round of broiler chickens on our own in our backyard. Our children are participating in a chicken competition at an upcoming junior livestock show. As we get closer to show day, only certain birds meet the standards of the judge so those that do not measure up can be butchered early. It was a day all of us worked side-by-side in the fresh outdoor air from sunup to sundown. It began first appreciating the life of each chicken. We all expressed the heart-wrenching hardship of picking up a chicken from its pen to be butchered moments later. Prior to choosing that first broiler, we had yet another family debate over whether we’d finally become vegetarians as we were all emotional and hesitant about starting the process. Then, it was unanimously decided that we love our homemade chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. (We aren’t ashamed of our love of chicken wings and apparently we’re not alone – it is estimated that 1.25 billion chicken wings were devoured during Super Bowl XLVII!). Yesterday, we didn’t need to lecture our children on the importance of teamwork. This lesson was learned in how we all depended on each other to complete their assigned tasks for the process to go smoothly. Something we will always remember about yesterday was how our five year old daughter was set on proving she was as grown up as her siblings. She didn’t bring us over to where the lines are in the garage marking her height to show how she’s grown over the past year. Instead, she firmly planted her feet beside the butchering table and watched the entire process with determined, wide-opened eyes. Last year, only four years old, she had insisted on helping and then immediately erupted into hysterics crying, “I thought you were only going to take its feathers off.” (To this day, I don’t know where she came up with the idea that that was happening. It isn’t like she’s ever seen an alive chicken scurrying about without its feathers before?). Once she knew she could handle what was happening, she eagerly asked for ways to help and then worked at her tasks as much as the rest of us did at ours. At the end of the very long and tiring day, you could see in all of our expressions a real sense of accomplishment in yet again raising our own food. We are indeed choosing to live a more exhausted life by living on a franch. But, for us, it means a fuller life with everyday experiences for our family that I once only read about. And if I could live all these days on our franch over again like the movie Groundhog Day, I’d happily live them the same way every time. Exhausted by all we do. Yet, at the same time, energized by all we do each day. Life’s good on the franch. And now you all know what we’ll be eating come Super Bowl Sunday.